Do Green Hotels Get More Guests?

As businesses across industries are learning, going green is all about the numbers.  Hospitality and lodging is no different. If you’re in the lodging biz, how would you like to increase your bookings by 7.5 percent in the next year?  That’s the jump in consumers who said they “researched and booked green accommodations” between 2009 and 2010.  How about half a million travelers viewing your website?  That’s the average number of times the term “green hotel” was searched on Google through August of 2011.

As Americans continue to look for ways to be more environmentally friendly at home – from shopping for organic foods to buying energy efficient cars – they are also beginning to look outside the home for businesses that are embracing green as well. Hotels and other lodging establishments are rife with opportunities to both save money through sustainability and attract eco-savvy travelers with green branding.

Grab Your Guests’ Attention

For hotels, inns and suites, reducing laundry can go a long way towards saving water and reducing the impact of harsh chemical detergents on the environment. One of the most successful initiatives undertaken by hotels today are the small signs in guest rooms and bathrooms requesting that guests hang towels that they intend to reuse in an effort to save water.  The cost savings enjoyed with this program can be surprisingly substantial.  In fact, when Marriott introduced its global linen reuse program in 2007, it reported a savings of 11 to 17 percent on hot water and sewer costs involved in laundering operations at each hotel.

Of course, programs like the linen reuse program can only succeed with guest participation.  That’s why it’s important to build a green brand by letting your guests know about your sustainability efforts.  In fact, according to J.D. Power, nearly 75 percent of all hotel guests are willing to participate in their hotel’s environmentally friendly programs – they just have to know about them first.

Get Serious

Today’s traveler is increasingly aware of the difference between true green and  greenwashing — the practice of using advertising or PR to mislead consumers into believing your business is more environmentally friendly than it really is. Consumers are smart, so it’s more important than ever that your green practices and policies go to the heart of your brand.  While this may mean significant investment now, the payoff in terms of cost savings and consumer interest can be considerable.

One property that is putting its money where its mouth is the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick in New Jersey.  The hotel recently garnered a lot of positive press when it installed a 32,000-square-foot, 421-kilowatt solar panel array over the top floor of the hotel’s garage.  According to the U.S. EPA, this project will result in the reduction of New Jersey’s CO2 emissions by 10,000 tons over the next 30 years, and will lessen oil dependence by at least 749 barrels annually.

But, this isn’t the hotel’s first major sustainability project.  It has built a credible green brand with projects that also include:

  • Food composting and combined recycling of metals, plastic, glass, cardboard, and paper.
  • Installation of a kitchen exhaust hood control system that is estimated to save 206,000 kWh in energy annually and $28,000 per year on reduced heating and air conditioning costs.
  • Conversion to CFL, QL, and LED lights wherever possible, resulting in energy saving of more than 567,000 kWh per year.

Consumers seem to approve: Hyatt Regency New Brunswick averages between 4 and 4.5 out of 5 points on customer ratings on leading travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz.

The growing awareness among American consumers about what green really means, and how they can incorporate more sustainability into their everyday lives – at home and away – has made it more important than ever for all businesses to adopt green practices that go to the core of their brand.  By following suit, you can reap the benefits of cost savings while honing a green marketing edge.

About Marcos Cordero

Marcos J. Cordero is the co-founder and CEO of the Green Business Bureau, a leading green business certification organization that helps small and mid-sized businesses implement sustainability practices.
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